For Meatless Monday or any other day for that matter, try this easy sheet pan dinner! This sweet potato tray bake is made with homemade cajun seasoning, lentils, and chickpeas, then topped with some creamy and flavorful halloumi.
Serve it all with a mega easy cajun tomato sauce and a fresh salad with garlic dressing and it is a meal worthy of any day of the week. It is healthy, filling and so flavorful!
For more vegetarian dinners, try this halloumi quinoa salad with warming garlic roasted vegetables, Vietnamese summer rolls if you prefer something a little fresher, or this juicy mushroom black bean burger. Chili sin carne is always a deliciously comforting yet healthy meal too.
Why you’ll love this recipe
You will love this recipe if you love easy sheet pan dinners but don't want it boring. Let's be honest, easy dinners are often quite monotonous. This one is not! It is filled with different textures and spices.
Also, if you love sauce. This one is for you. Sheet pan dinners tend to be quite dry, or else the veggies will get steamed as opposed to deliciously roasted. To combat this, we add a sauce afterward. No worries - it's super easy!
Finally, it is filling. I often find sheet pan dinners to lack a starch or something to keep me full. It may look pretty and all, but if I find myself snacking after a couple of hours - no thanks. The sweet potatoes in this dish will keep you full for longer!
The tray bake consists of
- Sweet potatoes - the main hero of the tray bake. It's filling, delicious, and can act as both the main and the side-starch (you know that's a thing)
- Red bell pepper - for extra crunch and to add a different texture
- Green lentils - low in calories and an excellent source of protein
- Chickpeas - high in fiber and protein, but also a good source of carbohydrates. Oh, and yum.
- Cashew nuts - roasted nuts are so good, both as an extra chewy texture and the nutty flavor
- Halloumi - I love halloumi for Meatless Monday AND anytime else. This halloumi and garlic roasted veggie salad is one of my absolute favorite salads. Halloumi is salty and creamy when cooked right. It needs to be served right away or it will turn rubbery
- Cajun seasoning (see below) and olive oil
The Cajun tomato sauce consists of
- The holy trinity - green bell pepper, yellow onion, and celery. See under Recipe FAQs
- Can of crushed tomatoes - for the base of the tomato sauce. Keep it simple but not boring y'all.
- Tabasco sauce - if you like extra heat
- Cajun seasoning (see below)
- Extra dried herbs - like oregano, parsley, and basil
- Sugar and salt - as needed, used to enhance the other flavors
Cajun seasoning is perfect for whenever you crave something spicy and earthy!
- Paprika - I use both smoked and regular ground paprika for a round and smokey flavor but you can use just ground paprika if you wish
- Oregano and thyme - for an herby addition
- Garlic and onion powder - perfect for adding umami to any seasoning
- Black pepper and cayenne - to provide the kick and heat
- Salt - if desired. This enhances the other flavors, but it can be good to omit it if you want to control the amount of salt you put into a dish
To make it, simply combine the ingredients together and store the cajun seasoning in an airtight spice jar. Makes about ⅔ cup, which is enough for making this dish 3 times.
Start by preheating the oven to 430℉ (220℃).
Cajun tomato sauce
Prepare the ingredients (1-2). In a medium saucepan, add neutral oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and celery (3). Cook for 5 minutes before adding the bell pepper (4). Cook for another 3 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients (5). Let this simmer for at least 15 minutes (6) (you can prepare the sauce and then begin with the tray bake and it will be ready when the tray bake is ready).
Taste and adjust sugar/salt to your tastebuds. I added ½ teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Blend the sauce if you want it smooth, but I like it chunky.
Yes, I have noticed images 3 and 4 are the same. It's just to keep you guessing, right!
Sweet potato tray bake
Add the lentils, chickpeas, and half-moon sliced sweet potatoes to a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and drizzle with olive oil and combine well.
Place on the middle rack for 10 minutes, before adding the bell pepper. Bake another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are fork-tender.
Sprinkle on the cashew nuts, and give it a stir. Pat the halloumi dry and slice it. Place the halloumi on top of the tray bake.
Change the oven settings to broiler and place the sheet pan on the upper rack. Watch carefully until the halloumi is golden (about 5 minutes).
Serve immediately with the sauce and preferably a simple side salad and garlic dressing (see tips in the notes in the recipe card, but you can do whatever!).
Storage and reheating
Keep the halloumi and the rest of the tray bake separate when storing, everything under a tight lid. Halloumi isn't great for reheating, but it can be done. Read under Recipe FAQs.
The tray bake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. To reheat, place it on a sheet pan and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃) for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.
The tomato sauce will only get better as it sits. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about 1 week. To reheat, add to a saucepan and heat over low heat for about 5 minutes. If it is too thick, add a splash of water.
Can you reheat halloumi? How to reheat it!
You can't reheat halloumi and expect it to be just as freshly cooked. The first time around it will have a creamy, melty inside whereas the second time it will be a little more rubbery.
That does not mean it's not good. I actually kind of like the weird, rubbery texture too. To reheat it, preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Place the halloumi in an oven-safe dish and bake for about 4-5 minutes or until warmed through.
You can also add the halloumi directly on the wire rack in the oven or on top of a foil.
Eat right away!
What is cajun seasoning?
Cajun seasoning is seasoning popular in Cajun cooking. Cajun cooking is a style developed by the Cajun-Acadians (French Canadians) who were deported from Acadia to Louisiana in the 18th century. The cooking uses West African, French, and Spanish cooking techniques.
Cajun seasoning has a bold and spicy flavor due to cayenne and paprika but is also earthy from the garlic, herbs, and onion. Cajun seasoning can be used for many more things than 'just' Cajun cooking though, it's so versatile!
What is the holy trinity in cajun cooking
Many cuisines have their holy trinity (or mirepoix) while cooking. This is a flavor and aroma base for their sauces, stocks, stews, etc. For instance, the Chinese use garlic, ginger, and green onion (like I did for this Chinese fried rice or these sesame ginger noodles).
In France and Italy, it is often carrots, onion, and celery (hello bolognese sauce). In Spain, their sofrito consists of onion, garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Enter Cajun cooking, and the holy trinity is green bell pepper, onion, and celery. I think this mirepoix is perfect for anything fresh with tomatoes and garlic. You can see a photo of it in step 2 for the Cajun tomato sauce above.
You can use pretty much whatever spice mix you want and this dish could work. As we use halloumi as well, I think Middle Eastern and Moroccan spices are amazing.
For example, you can use the spice mix in this Moroccan butternut squash soup or Arabic 7 spice. Head on to my spice mix category if you want even more ideas.
Or you could switch up the vegetables depending on what you have, what you crave, and what's in season. Butternut squash is a great substitute for sweet potatoes. Or you could go for Yukon potatoes or even parsnips or swede (rutabaga).
Tomatoes are delicious too, but they release a lot of juices which may steam the other vegetables. Aubergine, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are also great choices. If you suddenly craved something with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, this roasted cauliflower salad is for you.
You could also serve this as a side dish to whatever you want. Then it would serve at least double. I'd then simply skip the halloumi, and possibly the sauce too depending on what you serve it with. I love to serve it with a steak or grilled chicken breast, or pork - but mainly just as is.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more vegetarian dinners I think you’d love:
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Wednesday 26th of October 2022
This looks amazing! I love both Halloumi and Cajun flavors, but never thought to combine them, which is ironic given what Cajun is.
Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice
Saturday 29th of October 2022
Right! Thank you so much, Veggie.